PHIL 364
Mental Health and Illness: Philosophical Considerations Spring 2020
Division II
Cross-listed STS 364 / PHIL 364
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This course will raise and discuss a number of philosophical questions concerning our current understanding of mental health and mental illness. We will begin by examining the general concepts of health and disease, and then apply them to human psychology. Throughout the course, our focus will be on the best theoretical and practical knowledge we now have to diagnose, explain, and alleviate mental illness. Some of the questions that we will discuss are: What is psychopathology and what are its causes? Is it possible to have systematic knowledge of subjective experience? If so, is that knowledge importantly different in kind or in rigor from the knowledge we gain through physics, chemistry or geology? Are there metaphysical and ideological assumptions in contemporary psychiatry, and if so, could and should they be avoided? What is the basis on which current psychiatric diagnostic manuals are organized? Is that principle of organization justifiable or not? Do particular case histories offer good explanations of psychopathology? In framing and answering these questions, we will discuss subjective experience (or phenomenology) of mental illness; holism vs. reductionism; functional, historical and structural explanations of psychopathology; theory formation, evidence, and the role of values in psychology and psychiatry; the diversity and disunity of psychotherapeutic approaches; relationship between knowers and the known; and relationship between theoretical knowledge in psychiatry and the practices of healing.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 3512
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: several writing assignments, evenly spaced throughout the semester
Prerequisites: two philosophy courses; or one philosophy and one STS course; or consent of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: students who took Philosophy of Science or Philosophy of Mind; Philosophy and Psychology majors
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
STS 364 Division II PHIL 364 Division II
Attributes: PHIL Contemp Metaphysics + Epistemology Courses

Class Grid

Course Catalog Archive Search



Start Time
End Time